By Chris Ritter
It seems whenever I get intimidated by a particular project on my '37 Buick, I am far too willing to push it to the back burner. My glass sat uninstalled for months . . . as did my transmission . . . you get the idea. It also seems that when I finally get around to doing the intimidating project, I finish it up and think "That wasn't so bad after all."
The latest project I've been avoiding was the installation of my rear suspension, rear end and fuel tank. I'd need to get all of this installed if I wanted to get my car back on its wheels, so I started with my leaf springs.
After making the decision to replace my leaf springs in a few years, I've decided to forego the tin gaiters that were originally found on '37 Buicks. However, I would still need a set of rebound clips and a center bolt to keep the springs packed together and straight. I asked around for recommendations and was told to head to downtown Harrisburg to "the best spring shop in central Pennsylvania."
To say that the spring shop was a bit gritty would be putting it mildly. Upon entering I was greeted . . . er, grunted at, by a man in full biker gear complete with vest, torn t-shirt and a full sleeve of old school tattoos seemingly applied with a pocket knife and pen ink. To top his look off, the greeter only had one eye.
I immediately realized I wasn't going to get the same customer service as I would expect at a furniture store so I explained what I wanted and was told to sit down and wait. 45-minutes later I generated enough courage to go back to the counter to ask about my parts when another biker swooped in, figured out what I needed, and had me out the door in 3-minutes and only $5 lighter.
Center pin installed on my leaf springs. After they were fully assembled I cut off the excess length.
After compressing the leaf springs and inserting the center pin I proceeded to install the rebound clips. These are simply U-shaped steel brackets that are bent around the springs. A small dimple protruding from the clips gets paired with a hole in the spring, preventing it from sliding fore and aft.
Yes, I know my springs are pitted, but what this picture is really trying to show is the indent where the rebound clip dimple rests.
Primed rebound clip.
Hammering the sides over on the clips is straightforward and requires little explanation but I will tell you to NOT hold onto the pack of springs while you hammer away because the pounding action will cause the springs to separate ever so slightly and they will then grab your skin and leave some painful blood blisters when they rebound. If you are smart, you will either not hold the springs or you will learn after one pinch. If you are a bit less than smart you will earn three blood blisters like me.
I had originally planned on installing my fuel tank before installing the rear suspension but, with the fully assembled leaf springs in hand, I decided to switch things up. The rear leaf springs are connected to the car frame with a set of fore and aft shackles and bolts. The shackles allow for some movement during driving conditions making for a smooth ride. The shackle on the outer side of the frame has a standard thread but the inner shackle features tapered threads. Once driven in all the way, the tapered thread and a heavy duty lock washer make it virtually impossible for the shackle bolt to work its way out on its own.